Port of Zeebrugge experiences second best year ever
Despite the drop in container transhipments which make up half the harbour’s traffic, Zeebrugge has had its second best year ever, handling a total of 47.3 million tonnes. Roro, the truck transport via ferry operation, grew by 6% to 13 million tonnes. This is a record, according to Joachim Coens, president of the Zeebrugge port. He is set on even more growth in 2012. As the biggest shipment port for cars in Europe, Zeebrugge handled 1.7 million vehicles this year. This is 10% more than in 2010, but not quite up to the record level of 2.1 million achieved in 2008. The tsunami in Japan pushed car imports down for about five months. The container industry, on the other hand, is experiencing a global crisis, with an economic slowdown in China and a drop in trade between Europe and Asia causing most Western European ports to experience a decline in container shipments. In Zeebrugge, shipments dropped by 11% to 2.2 million containers. Next year’s trend will depend on how the biggest shipping companies adjust their service offering and whether they collaborate with other players in the field. Says Coens: “The upside is that we are doing well in receiving larger ships.” 2011 was a record year for lng liquid natural gas, with 81 lng-ships mooring. This year gas distribution company Fluxys started building on a second landing stage. Of the 8.5 million tonnes of liquid bulk handled in the port 5.2 million is liquid natural gas. Zeebrugge also received a record of 75 cruise ships transporting a total of 244,000 passengers. Finally the harbour plans to introduce wind energy production with the building of 27 wind turbines in the back port. One third of the capital will come from the local port authority.